Audiences first met Obi-Wan Kenobi in 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope as an old man, described by Luke Skywalker as “kind of a strange old hermit.” He turns out to be a valuable mentor to Luke, with a past as a skilled Jedi Knight. Luke even begins learning about the Force from him.
Beginning in 1999, viewers experienced the prequel trilogy covering Obi-Wan’s younger years. Across many decades, this character became synonymous with wise guidance.
Fans are about to spend more time with this Jedi in the new Obi-Wan Kenobi series. This show will give audiences a piece of Obi-Wan’s story in between the two film trilogies we’re already familiar with. So now is a useful time to remind ourselves of the chronological sequence of events leading up to the new series. Where is Obi-Wan as a character? Let’s talk about it.
The Phantom Menace
The earliest appearance of Obi-Wan Kenobi is in Episode 1- The Phantom Menace as a young Padawan learner, played by Ewan McGregor. Jedi are paired in master/apprentice relationships, and Obi-Wan’s master is Qui-Gon Jinn. When the two are sent to resolve a trade dispute, Obi-Wan’s life changes in momentous ways.
He meets the child who will grow up to become a huge part of his life: Anakin Skywalker (played by Jake Lloyd). As events go on, Obi-Wan is forced into an unexpected position of authority. The evil Sith emerge to do harm once again and Qui-Gon is killed in a confrontation with one of them. Obi-Wan loses his mentor and friend but becomes a tutor himself. He takes on Anakin as his apprentice in the ways of the Force.
As this section of the story ends, Obi-Wan has come to an emotional turning point in his life. He is clearly in pain over the loss of Qui-Gon. But he also takes a mature step forward with more responsibility when he gains a Padawan learner of his own in Anakin.
Attack of the Clones
Ten years pass and the story continues with Obi-Wan a fully qualified Jedi Master and Anakin (now played by Hayden Christensen) his gifted apprentice. While Anakin begins down the path that will lead to darkness and his transformation into Darth Vader, Obi-Wan must hone his detective and warrior skills. The Jedi are still struggling to protect the Republic as the Sith resurface. Obi-Wan is a central figure in the discovery of everything that threatens the Jedi and democracy itself in the galaxy.
The most significant thing about Obi-Wan’s development in this part of his journey is that he is a father figure to Anakin. Anakin even says as much when he tells Obi-Wan, “You’re the closest thing I have to a father.”
This relationship will have immeasurable importance to both of them for many years to come. The two conflict with each other but they also work well together. Viewers get the sense that Obi-Wan is not only teaching Anakin about the Force but about life in general as well.
Revenge of the Sith
As the Clone Wars continue, a substantial period in Obi-Wan Kenobi’s adult life comes to a zenith. He is not only a Master, but also on the Jedi Council now. Obi-Wan feels Anakin has nothing more to learn from him, saying he is proud of him and that he is “a far greater Jedi than I could ever hope to be.” But external forces conspire to make this chapter a tragedy. The Emperor’s manipulations cement Anakin’s fall into the Dark Side of the Force and the Jedi are nearly wiped out as a consequence.
Obi-Wan loses an apprentice just as he lost his Master: to the Sith. He feels like he failed Anakin and says as much when they face each other on Mustafar. The two friends and colleagues have become antagonists and it’s heartbreaking. They are both still alive when they leave Mustafar but nothing is the same.
Anakin essentially becomes part machine to function. Obi-Wan must go into exile from everything he has ever known. Obi-Wan has a new focus now, though, and new work to do. Anakin’s children have been born and split up for protection. Obi-Wan will watch over the son, Luke, from afar while he is raised by relatives.
That is the last glimpse we have of this talented Jedi before the events of Obi-Wan Kenobi: he delivers infant Luke to Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru. We can’t wait to see what surprises await Obi-Wan in the time between this moment and the original trilogy of Star Wars films.